On First Looking into Keats’s Sonnets

I want to talk today about Keats’s sonnets. I’ve always liked Keats—it’s hard to imagine not liking Keats—but I’ve mostly read his odes. Is it possible to graduate from an English-language high school without reading “Ode to a Grecian Urn?” I certainly hope not. But I honestly can’t recall ever reading any of his sonnets except for “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer.” I didn’t know what I was missing. Continue reading

The Pornographic Gaze, Smartphones, and Virtual Experience

[UPDATE 8/10/2017] This post has drawn a great deal of attention. It seems that recording things with our cellphones is not only something we all do but also something we all feel ambivalent about at times. I almost didn’t upload this post because I was afraid it would be read in black and white. I was concerned that I hadn’t succeeded in presenting a sufficiently nuanced view. Reading the responses I received–even though they were all positive–I felt sure I had failed 🙂. Continue reading

Slowly, slowly …

Twenty or so years ago, during my first stay in Chengdu, I and three friends sat in on a Chinese landscape painting (shanshuihua 山水画) class at the university where we taught English. The teacher’s method was to paint a scene at the front of the class, discussing what he was doing as he did it, while we all attempted to copy it. When he had finished, he would walk around the room looking at everyone’s work and making suggestions for its improvement. Until he reached me. Then he would look at my painting, chuckle deep in his throat, pat me on the shoulder, and, saying “Slowly, slowly …,” walk on to the next student. Continue reading